by James Ham & Jonathan Santiago[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnrppBwbbPY]
Things got contentious in California’s state capital Saturday night. However, the Sacramento Kings were able to overcome a chippy game against the Boston Celtics to win 105-98 in front of a sellout crowd at Sleep Train Arena.
“It was a weird game,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the win. “(We were) trying to keep our composure out there. Obviously we benefitted from Gerald (Wallace) and coach (Brad) Stevens getting thrown out at the end – it gave us a couple extra free throws. It’s a physical game and we can’t let people get under our skin and take us out of what we’re trying to do.”
The Kings entered the final frame of Saturday’s game with a seven-point advantage, only to see the Celtics chip away and nearly take the lead. A heated battle between Celtics big man Kris Humphries and DeMarcus Cousins plus a flagrant foul from Carl Landry on Boston rookie Kelly Olynyk characterized tonight’s contentious play in the fourth quarter.
The Kings had seven players score in double figures in Saturday’s victory. They were led by Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 21 points and tied a career-high 12 assists.
“I’ma try,” Thomas said when asked if he plans on finding ways to record double-digit assists on a more regular basis. “In a perfect world, I wish I could do that. Guys made shots tonight, guys were open and I found the open man.”
In addition to Thomas, Cousins, Landry, Rudy Gay, Jason Thompson, Ben McLemore and Derrick Williams also scored 10 or more points.
“It’s weird for sure,” Gay said of his team recording fewer than 20 assists while having seven players score in double digits. “But for the most part, we got the W and however we get it, it doesn’t matter. But at the end of the day, that’s something for us to think about – how we can get other people involved. We had seven people in double figures, which is good but we have to be able to get everybody touches, get everybody involved and make it easy on ourselves.”
Cousins returned to action after missing Wednesday’s loss to the Golden State with an injured left hip flexor. The Kings starting center finished with a modest 13 points and seven rebounds in his first game after the All-Star Break. Following the game, the 23-year-old big man admitted to feeling limited by the injury in his return.
“Just even driving past somebody, it was tough on me,” Cousins said after the game. “Just even running up the floor was tough. Like I said, we’ll see how I feel in the morning.”
The Kings move to 19-36 overall and 12-17 at Sleep Train Arena. They return action tomorrow night in the Mile High City to play the Denver Nuggets in their second game in as many nights.
Notes and Analysis
- Isaiah Thomas played a solid 37 minutes tonight for coach Malone, scoring 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting and tying a career-high 12 assists. Thomas needs more nights like this as he tries to earn a big pay day this summer. The Kings finished with just 18 assists on the night and their starting point guard had two-thirds of them.
- Rudy Gay had more than a few questionable shots tonight, but he managed to score 22 points on 8-for-18 shooting in the win. The 27-year-old forward added seven rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes of action.
- Kris Humphries had DeMarcus Cousins’ number tonight. The veteran forward started in place of the injured Jared Sullinger (mild concussion) and held the Kings starting center to 13 points and seven rebounds, while forcing Cousins into six turnovers in 34 minutes.
- Ben McLemore looked a lot more comfortable tonight in the starting lineup. The rookie guard finished with 11 points and four rebounds in 27 minutes, but most of that production came in the first quarter. Thomas needs to get McLemore started early with a couple of easy baskets if he wants his new backcourt mate to succeed.
- One of the plans for the remaining games this season is to get Carl Landry more involved. Tonight, it worked. Landry scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. He isn’t back to his old self quite yet, but the former Boilermaker looked a lot more spry tonight.
- Jason Thompson hit baskets when Sacramento needed them. The Kings starting power forward finished with 10 points, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 26 minutes. If the plan is to get Landry more minutes, Thompson needs to be effective and efficient when given the chance.
- Derrick Williams finished with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, becoming the Kings’ seventh double figure scorer on the night. The highlight of this game came in the second quarter when Thomas pitched the ball off the glass on the break to a flying Williams for an alley-oop dunk.
- Stat of the Night: The Kings shot 52.1 percent from the field and held the Celtics to 39.1 percent.
Quote of the Night
Kings coach Michael Malone on leaving Cousins in the game with five fouls:
“Well, obviously, I was very aware that he had his five fouls and my assistant coach was wondering if we wanted to get him out. We had a few timeouts where we could get a stop to call him back into the game if we wanted to. Part of these 28 games (left) is seeing if you can trust these guys and letting them playing in those type of situations. To his credit, he was able to maintain his composure long enough until he fouled out in that last foul. I have to start showing trust in guys to see how they can handle these situations.”
Video shot and edited by Kimani David.